Monday, January 21, 2008

2007 Top U.S. Patent Assignees from ISIClaims

Last week IFIClaims, a patent information company owned by Walters Kluwer Health , released its annual list of top U.S. patent assignees for 2007. According to the report, the USPTO issued 157,284 utility patents last year, a decline of about 10 percent from 2006. The top ten assignees (out of 35 listed) are:

1. IBM ..... 3,148
2. Samsung ..... 2,725
3. Canon ..... 1,987
4. Matsushita Elec. Ind. Co. ..... 1,941
5. Intel ..... 1,865
6. Microsoft ..... 1,637
7. Toshiba ..... 1,549
8. Sony ..... 1,481
9. Micron ..... 1,476
10. Hewlett-Packard ..... 1,470

Sunday, January 20, 2008

IPI-ConfEx 2008 - International Patent Information Conference

The final program for IPI-ConfEx 2008, an international patent information conference, is now available online. IPI-ConfEx is scheduled for March 2-5 in Seville, Spain and will feature a of presentations from EPO and WIPO staff, patent information vendors and corporate patent searchers. The conference is organized by a number of European patent information associations.

Fictional Brands

Last Sunday's Toronto Star had an interesting story about fictional brands from film and literature that have inspired real-life products. Some examples include HOLIDAY INN hotels, said to have been inspired by the 1942 Bing Crosby movie of the same name, and BRAWNDO energy drink, a fake brand from Mike Judge's 2006 film Idiocracy. There's even a term describing this phenomena: "defictionalization".

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Infringement = Triple Word Score

An AP story reports that Hasbro and Mattel, makers of Scrabble(R), are unhappy with an unauthorized online version of the game called Scrabulous. The companies, which share worldwide rights to the boardgame, have sent cease-and-desist letters to the two brothers from India who created the online version which is very popular on Facebook.

According to the official Scrabble(R) website, the first version of the game, called Lexico, was invented in 1931 by an unemployed architect named Alfred Mosher Butts. Unfortunately, his repeated attempts in the 1930s to secure a patent on the game and license it to Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley all ended in failure. In the mid-1940s, James and Helen Brunot of Newtown, Conn., who had acquired one of Butts' homemade sets, entered into a partnership with Butts to market a redesigned, simpler version of the game. The trademark Scrabble was registered on December 16, 1948. (Reg. 524,505) The Brunots patented an improvement to the game in 1956. (US2,752,158)

Hasbro owns the Scrabble trademarks and copyrights in North America; Mattel in the rest of the world.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Public PAIR Verification System

The USPTO has implemented a new verification system for users accessing Public PAIR (Patent Application Information Retrieval). Users must now enter a two-word verification code in order to access the system. The system is meant to block bots and spiders. Launched in mid-2003, Public PAIR contains bibliographic data, legal status and prosecution history information and facsimilie images of file wrapper documents for published applications and issued patents.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Everyday Edisons - Season 3

Everyday Edisons, a show about inventing that debuted on PBS last year, has announced its casting calls for season 3. The first casting call will be in Atlanta on Jan. 12. Other cities in the schedule include San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago and Boston. This is a great show for students and inventors who want to learn more about bringing products to market.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Classification Orders, #1867-1874

The USPTO has issued eight new classifications orders since Oct. 1, 2007, an unusually large number for a three-month period. Classes affected include:

711 - Electrical computers and digital processing systems: memory
714 - Error detection/correction and fault detection/recovery
715 - Data processing: presentation processing of document, operator interface processing, and screen saver display processing
506 - Combinatorial chemistry technology: method, library, apparatus
435 - Chemistry: molecular biology and microbiology
374 - Thermal measuring and testing
365 - Static information storage and retrieval
360 - Dynamic magnetic information storage or retrieval
318 - Electricity: motive power systems

Chinese Patent Databases, EPC 2000, etc.

The December issue of Patent Information News has several interesting and useful articles on free patent databases from China; the impact of the European Patent Convention (EPC 2000) on patent information searchers; and patent information from Asia.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

USPTO Discontinues Another Paper Publication

According to a notice published in the Federal Register, the USPTO is discontinuing the paper version of its Patent and Trademark Office Notices effective December 25, 2007. The Notices, which are also published in the weekly Official Gazette, include announcements on USPTO policies, fees, mailing addresses and patent attorney registration. Other information related to patents includes expired patents, certificates of correction, withdrawn patents, maintenance fee notices, new reexamination proceedings and reissue applications. Notices will continue to appear in the electronic Official Gazette and the USPTO's online archive, which contains notices from 1995 to the present.

In my opinion, this is a positive, if overdue change... Other patent offices long ago discontinued their print gazettes and notices. But it's also a missed opportunity because the electronic version of the Notices is simply a facsimile of the print version. Why not integrate the post-allowance data published in the Notices (e.g. corrections, disclaimers, withdrawn numbers, expired patents) with other existing tools such as the PatFT database? It would be much more convenient and time saving to have access to this data in one place.

Wikipedia References in Issued Patents

Back in September 2006 the USPTO banned patent examiners from using Wikipedia as a source of prior art information, citing its unreliability and lack of authority. Well, this apparently hasn't stopped examiners or inventors from citing the popular online encyclopedia in patents. The number of Wikipedia articles cited in patents in 2007 jumped to 293, almost three times the number cited in 2006.

Of course, this pales in comparison to other sources of scientific and technical information. Patents that cited IEEE publications totaled 14,440 in 2007. There were also 3,268 citations to ACM publications and 972 to Chemical Abstracts. Heavily cited science and engineering publishers included Elsevier (2,106), McGraw-Hill (1,089), Springer (1,538) and Wiley (2,963). Online sources are increasing in popularity: websites were cited in 10,870 patents issued in 2007.